Chapter 3: Fernie's World
It was spring. How green everything was appearing to be! Fernie did notice the colours of flowers and trees blooming, in the early daylight. Mama’s crocuses had already pushed through the dirt, and the daffodils were now in their full glory. She knew that most people loved the pinks and the yellows and other Spring-ish colours. But her favourite was what she called “new green.” Her beloved ferns were the best part of that.
It was early yet. Mama was still in her room, but would be drinking her morning tea and writing her letters. She was not to be disturbed during this time, which was often most of the morning. Nurse was busy with her younger siblings in the nursery and Papa was already gone to university to teach. She loved these early mornings best when she was free to do what she wanted—which was to wander amongst the freshly springing ferns.
She went down to the kitchen and asked Cook if she would make her a meal to take with her on her morning outing. “Goin’ fer a jaunt, are ya Fernie Girl?”
Fernie smiled. She no longer felt the sting of Florence’s words in her ears. Cook’s cheerful face and tone of voice expressed her kindness and caring. She was Fernie more and more to those whom she loved, and those who loved her. What had started as an affectionate name from Papa, had stirred its way into her home life, and rested in her heart, forever protected from Florence’s unkindness. She did not yet have the courage to say that her name was Fernie, when meeting new acquaintances. Mama would not have wanted her to say she was not Fanny, as that was her proper name. But on this morning, in the warmth of the kitchen as Cook went about her tasks, she was content.
“Where’s that field satchel o’ yours, then?” Cook asked, spreading a slab of butter onto a slice of bread. “I think I’ve just enough gooseberry jam left for that bread, if ya like,” as she scraped out the jar and swiped it across the butter. She put another slice of bread on top and secured it in a beeswax sack.
“Oh, yes please!” Fernie replied and placed her satchel on the table.
“Now what else?” Cook said. “Have yer tea, here” as she set down a cup. “And a quick bowl o’ porridge.”
Ordinarily, Fernie would be in the dining room with all the proper accoutrements of breakfast. She liked these less formal, early-morning times just with Cook and her helpers.
The kitchen door swung open with a bang. “Oh, Bessie was giving me a time, this morning!” came a voice. It was Nellie, one of Cook’s helpers, with a pail of milk. She looked at Fernie sitting at the table. “Oh, Miss Fernie! You’re up early!”
Cook and Fernie both nodded. “We are getting her ready for her morning outin’,” said Cook. She reached over and deftly dipped a ladle into the milk and strained it into a small pitcher. “Here ya go! Fresh from the cow!” and poured it into Fernie’s tea.
As Fernie finished her breakfast, Nellie recounted her difficulties of getting Bessie into the barn for milking. Cook stood at the stove, commenting with an occasional “Oh, dear,” as she moved pots about and added more wood to the fire and checked the oven. Then she finished packing up Fernie’s food and put it in her field satchel. “That should keep you well-fed this morn,” she said as she closed the flap. “You have yerself a good outin’, now Miss Fernie!”
Fernie took a final bit of porridge and slurped her tea as she had seen Papa do with his coffee, and then she grabbed her bag. “Thank you!” she said and she was out the kitchen door, skipping through the dew of the day.